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Virology. 1999 Jul 5;259(2):428-36.

Marked genomic heterogeneity and frequent mixed infection of TT virus demonstrated by PCR with primers from coding and noncoding regions.

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Immunology Division and Division of Molecular Virology, Jichi Medical School, Tochigi-Ken, 329-0498, Japan.


A nonenveloped, single-stranded, and circular DNA virus designated TT virus (TTV) has been reported in association with hepatitis of unknown etiology. TTV has a wide sequence divergence (approximately 52%), by which it is classified into at least 16 genotypes separated by an evolutionary distance of >0.30. Therefore, the detection of TTV DNA by polymerase chain reaction would be influenced by primers deduced from conserved or divergent regions of the genome. Of the 30 sera from healthy individuals, up to 17% tested positive with primers deduced from coding region, much less frequently than up to 93% testing positive with primers from noncoding region. These differences were not attributable to the sensitivity of detection, because a cloned TTV DNA of genotype 1a was detected sensitively (up to 1 copy per test) with primers deduced from either the coding or the noncoding region of the same genotype. Sera testing positive only with noncoding region primers, or those showing higher titers with noncoding than coding region primers, contained TTV DNA strains with sequence divergence of 47-53% from the TA278 isolate of genotype 1a within the N22 region spanning 222-231 nucleotides. Some of the sera contained two or three TTV DNA strains of distinct genotypes. These results indicate TTV strains with extremely high sequence divergence prevailing in healthy individuals and frequent mixed infection with TTV strains of distinct genotypes.

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